Applications open for NI heritage skills programme

Department for Communities Historic Environment Division Director Iain Greenway is pictured at the Heritage Skills Centre at Moira with Owen Mort, Skills Centre Manager and internal verifier.

An innovative educational programme aimed at preserving traditional building skills needed for protecting our historical built environment has today reopened for applications. 

The All-Ireland Heritage Skills Programme is a collaboration between The Prince’s Foundation, The Heritage Council and Department for Communities’ Historic Environment Division (HED).

This year eight bursaries are available for people already working or studying in heritage skills and the construction sector – in particular stonemasonry, carpentry, joinery, bricklaying, blacksmithing, plastering, thatching, roofing, tiling, painting, and decorating – and who would like to raise their skills to the next level.

The All-Ireland Heritage Skills Programme is a 12-month course, which provides practical experience and training in a broad range of diverse heritage building skills across the island of Ireland. Participants will also undertake a NVQ3 Diploma in Heritage Skills, assessed through HED’s Heritage Skills Centre in Moira, Co Down.

The successful applicants will get the opportunity to hone their skills at a Summer School in Dumfries House Estate in Scotland, Winter School in Kilkenny, and industry placements across the island of Ireland. 

Simon Sadinsky, Executive Director of Education at the Prince’s Foundation, said: “There is a growing demand to train the next generation of craftspeople who will work within our built environment. This need is both to preserve our existing historic landscape as well as to sensitively create our future heritage assets. Our experience at the Prince’s Foundation has taught us of the importance of doing so in an interdisciplinary way that provides exposure to other trades, materials and practices and creates a space for knowledge exchange and shared learning. We are thrilled to be partnering to deliver such an innovative cross border programme and believe that the programme will provide an impactful and inspiring foundation for future leaders in the sector."

Iain Greenway, Director of Historic Environment Division in the Department for Communities, added: “To provide a viable and sustainable skill base for the conservation of historic structures, there needs to be sufficient people with key heritage skills. I am delighted that we are able to play a key role through our Heritage Skills Centre in Moira. The All-Ireland Heritage Skills Programme has already proven a successful pathway to developing those skills and I would encourage people to consider applying for this year’s scheme."

“It is timely that as we begin the second year of this important Programme, the Heritage Council has set out priorities for the next five years in our new Strategic Plan," noted Virginia Teehan, Chief Executive of The Heritage Council. "It’s a plan that places specific emphasis on the preservation of traditional building skills and the pivotal role that education will play in enabling these skills not just to survive, but to thrive. Sadly, many vital skills are being lost and the heritage and construction sectors are experiencing the impact of that loss. The continuation and development of the All-Ireland Heritage Skills Programme is a key element of addressing this problem and we look forward to deeper collaboration with our partners in The Prince’s Foundation and Historic Environment Division.”

For more information on the application process, criteria, dates and funding is available here

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